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Is it Worth Putting Plastic on Windows in Winter?

Is it Worth Putting Plastic on Windows in Winter

A common remedy for drafty windows is putting plastic on them in preparation for winter. This isn’t the only way to winterize windows, but applying plastic window insulation can be effective in certain situations. 

Plastic window covers may be a good temporary solution if you live in an older home and are looking for a way to prevent leaks and drafts from your windows. 

Finding a Leak

Before you can fix a problem with your window insulation, you first need to identify the problem. Here are some of the more common signs that your windows are leaking and need repair and better sealing:

  • Visible gaps between the window and the frame.
  • Peeling paint around the window. 
  • Windows that rattle. 
  • Strong odors from the outside are noticed inside your home. 
  • Excessive dust or dirt in the area surrounding the window.
  • Increased heating and cooling costs.

Some of these signs may be more noticeable than others, but if you are concerned about possible air leaks, you can perform some quick tests to assess the situation.

Paper Test

Open the window, insert a piece of paper, and close the window with the paper still inserted between the window and the frame. If you can easily move or slide the paper, your window is loose and needs some attention.

Incense/Smoke Test

Light an incense stick or a punt that emits a small amount of smoke and hold it up to the seams of the window. If the smoke moves in a particular direction — either towards or away from the window sash — there is a leak present. For this test, it may be helpful to test multiple sides and sections of the window.

Or, you can contact a professional to come to your home and assess the function and condition of your windows and door frames. 

How Can Plastic Covering Help?

Putting plastic on your windows adds a layer of insulation. This prevents your windows from collecting excess moisture from condensation and letting heat out of your home in the colder months.

The plastic should be secured around the entire window to effectively reduce drafts passing through the window or heat loss through older windows with less energy efficiency. This includes the glass panes, of course, but also the woodwork around the entire window. 

While investing in replacing your windows with energy-star-rated windows and positive NFRC ratings is the best solution to faulty windows, applying plastic window covers is a quick, cheap, and easy way to save money on your energy bills until you can get new windows. 

It’s possible to apply plastic window coverings with essential household equipment, but many affordable and easy-to-use kits are available at hardware or home improvement stores. 

Do My Windows Need Plastic Window Insulation?

Adding an insulation layer with plastic window coverings may only be helpful for some houses. Newer homes with higher-quality windows without noticeable gaps don’t need additional insulation layers. Putting plastic on the windows is just wasted time and effort. 

On the other hand, if you consistently notice the signs listed above, even without performing the tests mentioned, there is a good chance your home can benefit from adding plastic insulation. 

Remember that using plastic insulation to winterize your home is a short-term solution. The application process can be tedious and must be repeated each winter, so be prepared to put in the necessary time and effort to do the job properly. If the plastic isn’t installed correctly or securely, it won’t provide the insulation needed. 

Are There Alternatives to Plastic Window Insulation?


Weatherstripping refers to the materials applied around any opening to your home, most commonly doors. It is a strip or layer of rubber or flexible plastic attached to the areas where a door or window meets the rest of the building when it’s closed. Weatherstripping prevents moisture and air from leaking through the opening. 

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for weatherstripping to become less effective as time passes. The materials can become brittle or worn to the point that they can’t provide the water- and air-tight seals necessary to keep your home warm and dry around doors and windows. 

The good news is that replacing weatherstripping is relatively straightforward. New weatherstripping is more effective than plastic insulation and will last longer. 


If windows are improperly sealed during installation, even the best quality and newest windows will be drafty, leak air, and ultimately cost you money. Using the right products and sealant applications can give you many of the benefits of plastic coverings in a more effective way. 

You want to ensure you use the right caulk as a sealant around your windows. The caulk should be flexible but durable enough to seal the space around the window to prevent air and water from passing through. Thus, it needs to be waterproof and shrink-proof. Soun

Thermal Curtains

If you have newer windows and are looking for insulation solutions that are more aesthetically pleasing, try thermal curtains. These curtains are usually comprised of multiple layers of insulating materials that protect the rest of your home from circulating cool or cold air. Thermal curtains can also provide sound-dampening and light-blocking benefits. 

Mountain States Windows & Siding

Quality, durable, and well-insulated windows and siding are critical for making it through blustery Utah winters comfortably and with a reasonable utility bill. That’s where Mountain States Window & Siding can help. 

Our expert technicians offer friendly service with the knowledge, experience, and professional equipment to ensure your windows are beautiful and function appropriately with energy efficiency. So whether you are building new or renovating a space, we are ready to give you the windows of your dreams. 

From blueprints to the final touches, Mountain States Window & Siding and Mountain States Kitchen and Bathroom are dedicated to helping you bring out the best in your home. Contact us today for a consultation and quote for your project, and let’s get started!

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